Last month, a local family turned hardship into a story of inspiration. When Roseanne Martucci was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, her family rallied around her as she underwent treatment. This coming March, she will celebrate four years of being cancer-free, and her son Nicholas honored his mother by running in the New York City Marathon on November 4.
The story of Nicholas Martucci’s marathon actually began in 2010, nearly four years before his mother would be diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was asked to sub for a softball game,” he explains. “I didn’t know that it was actually part of a tournament for the American Cancer Society.” Nicholas wound up meeting representatives from the organization, and eventually became involved with the committee behind the Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tournament, which raises funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society. “I helped them try to come up with different ideas to improve events, using my background in advertising and marketing,” says Nicholas.
In 2014, the Martucci family, long-time residents of Pawling, would receive devastating news. “I was diagnosed in December, and I wound up having my surgery in March at the Smilow Center at Yale New Haven Hospital,” says Roseanne Martucci. She would undergo a double mastectomy and reconstruction. Though the process was arduous, Roseanne was in the care of a capable team at the Smilow Center. “They were great, I can’t say enough about them,” she recalls. “They treat people so wonderfully.”
Following the procedure, Roseanne endured twelve weeks of chemotherapy. During this time, her sons Nicholas and Stephen along with husband, Peter, were there every step of the way to lend their support. “Nicholas was right there with me in the hospital, hooking up wires and making sure I had Netflix,” says Roseanne. “They even gave him a place to sleep when he stayed over.” The treatment was ultimately successful, and Roseanne will be cancer-free for four years in March of 2019.
Earlier this year, after marrying his wife, Allie, Nicholas attended the American Cancer Society’s Annual Financial Services Gala in Midtown. There, a colleague posed the idea of Nicholas running in the NYC Marathon in November. “I laughed at first,” Nicholas says. “I would run once every three months, just to get out of the gym. I never thought of myself as a runner.” After a month of consideration, Nicholas decided he would run.
To participate in the NYC Marathon for the American Cancer Society, a runner must meet the $3,200 fundraising requirement. Nicholas would also need to begin training for the 26-mile endeavor. “There’s a schedule for training,” says Nicholas. “You go on group runs with everyone who is running and raising money, and you have to cross train.” On August 16, he took his first run to start the preparation, jogging from his apartment in Manhattan to the World Trade Center, two miles each way. The following Saturday, he began training with other runners who were participating for the American Cancer Society. “I said ‘I’ll just do whatever they do,’” he recalls. “They ran for twelve miles that day. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done.”
As Nicholas continued his physical training, he also began fundraising to secure the $3,200 necessary to participate. “I had raised about $2,000 dollars, so I was still short of the requirement,” he recalls. “Then I got an email congratulating me for hitting my fundraising goal.” Initially, Nicholas believed that the email was a mistake. However, an inquiry into the matter revealed that a patron of the Crane Christian Church in Missouri had generously made a contribution. A donor named Tammy Caldwell from Galena, Missouri, supplied Nicholas with the remainder of the funds needed to participate. Caldwell had raised money to participate in the marathon several years ago, but the event was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. Even though she was unable to run herself that year, Nicholas’s benefactor kept fundraising so that others would be able to run. “She wants her donation to help people get over the amount that they need,” says Nicholas. “She also knows how important it is to focus on training, so it would be one less thing for me to worry about.”
With funding secured, Nicholas focused the remaining time before the marathon on his training. In addition to running in a variety of locations in New York City, he would also take his training across the country when he travelled for business. He ran in upstate New York, Delaware, and across the beaches of California. “I ran all around the country, like Forrest Gump,” he says.
When Sunday, November 4, finally arrived, Nicholas was ready. “I knew I was physically able to do it; my goal was under five hours,” he says. He joined the nearly 50,000 runners that day – the marathon had received its highest applicant pool in the event’s history. As part of the fourth and final wave of runners, Nicholas would keep his spirits up by FaceTiming friends and family. He was also cheered from the crowd by his wife and parents who had enormous cut-outs of his face printed to show their support. When it was finally over, Nicholas Martucci completed the marathon with a time of 5:09:42. “It was an amazing experience,” he says.
As he crossed the finish line, Nicholas’s wife, parents, and other friends and family were waiting for him. “I was so proud of him,” says Roseanne. “I told him not to do it,” jokes his father, Peter. “I said ‘Nick, you have asthma; do you think running 26 miles is the way to start a running career?’ He said he wanted to do it to support his mother, and all the other survivors. I was very proud.”